Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How Do I Prepare My Kids for High School Work?

It's one of the big 10 questions every homeschooler gets - "What about high school?"

Most moms I know FREAK OUT (including me) when deciding if they can handle homeschooling high school their first kid.

#1  You’re not wrong to freak out.  Is it good to give cautious attention and consideration about who you marry?  Is it reasonable to be concerned about pregnancy and birth when you’re never done it before?  Then it’s reasonable to give cautious consideration about launching a child into adulthood.  Besides, it’s hard, as is good parenting.  Not impossible, but challenging.  

#2  Homeschool Connections is my favorite resource of all time for Catholic high school coursework.  You can read about our experience here

#3 Classes, activities and a good youth group has been GREAT for my high schoolers to socialize.  I’ve found it’s even more important in the high school years for my kids to have outside friends and opportunities for fun.  My kids get much of this from Catholic homeschool friends.  My kids have plenty of Protestant homeschool friends they love and friends who go to school, but their sense of identity can be solidified with like-minded friends when it comes to religion and world-view.

#4 Preparing kids for high school coursework
I tried so hard to adequately prepare my oldest for high school work.  As we started high school, I did find a few holes – that was a tough year for my oldest, but we both survived.  I have done a better job preparing my other kids for high school work. 

Now, I spend the middle school years working on 3 main skills: 

*Being accountable for their time and finishing assignments on time without holding their hand (or badgering) 
For this skill, I use a student planner and a hefty list of carrots and consequences. My favorite student planner is Good News Planners from Creative Communications.  Even my big kids like the boxes of the “Elementary Planner” better than the open spaces of the “High School” planner.  Here’s why I like that particular planner.

The way I use it is to give my 5th & 6th graders daily assignments.  I’ll break down big assignments into smaller pieces for them.  Eventually as they master that, I transition them so that by 7th & 8th grade I’m giving them weekly assignments and they can break them down into daily to-do list for themselves.  At first I monitor their to-do lists to make sure they’ve broken them down into reasonable pieces and they’re getting them done.  Hopefully, by the end of 8th grade I’m only going over their planner at the beginning of the week  to get it set up and at the end of the week when they turn in their assignments.  This is how I handle the organization of their work throughout high school.

*Independently learning from a textbook & Ability to study independently and take tests  THIS SKILL is soooo IMPORTANT to any sense of a traditional highschool education.  It's not something kids innately know and it has to be taught.  It can also take several years to master.  It also isn't a skill covered in any of the delight-driven, literature-based, classical elementary school that I do with my kids.
       My favorite middle school resource for this is a good science textbook.  I cover how to teach this in Test Taking Skills.

*Paper Writing  This I a tough skill and although they work on it during all of high school, I want them to have the rudiments of it before then. Here is an example of the expectations I have of my kids in each grade level including high school.

 In 8th grade each of my kids writes me a HUGE research paper following along with Seton’s Composition for Young Catholics

How I use the resource.  Starting in quarter 2 of the year (because the first couple months of school is always a blur), the kids do 1 chapter per week.  Starting in quarter 3 (2nd semester), the kids do roughly 1 chapter per week.  Several chapters get more than 1 week: Chapter 12 – Note Taking gets 3 weeks, Chapter 16 – First Draft gets 2 weeks, and Chapter 19 – Final Edit gets 2 weeks.

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